This view of Augustine's hardly leaves room for an optimistic notion of progress. Augustine does not expect something from a future within time, but rather from a present. Only in the praesens attentio of the soul can a person, by means of a combination of memory (memoria), present attention (contuitus, attentio), and expectation (expectatio), establish a unity of temporal events.242 And only in moments of fulfilled present, when time opens itself to eternity, so to speak, in a rara visio (a rare vision) of enlightenment,243 is it possible for human beings to access, though fragmentarily, the tran scendent, the connectedness of time and eternity, and the experience of eternity.244 Apart from such mystical moments—he may have been thinking of the vision of Ostia245—Augustine does not anticipate a future fulfillment of time in eternity: "For Augustine, in human history, a person always remains the same distance from God's eternity."246 Thus, for Augustine, the essential difference between eternity and time continues to be the prevailing one. A dynamic relationship of the two to each other, which may entail a relationship to eternity that has implications for the concrete shaping of one's time, remains out of question. For this reason, Duchrow and Dalferth have correctly concluded that nature and the world are left to their own devices. If de-temporalization is the goal of life, questions regarding the concrete shaping of time lose their urgency.247
The strength of the ontological distinction between time and eternity lies in its prevention of an idolization of time, by qualifying time as being created vis-à-vis uncreated eternity, and in its presentation of God's eternity as the condition for the possibility of time. Whether the ontological distinction must necessarily lead to a description of time as nothing more than a deficient mode of being, however, remains questionable. At any rate, the ontological distinction is not sufficient for a theological reflection that takes seriously the specific eschatological tension between the already and the not-yet observed in the New Testament. Above all, it does not suffice when the "already" is taken to imply more than merely a momentary glimpse into eternity in thepraesens attentio of the individual soul, when this "already," for instance, is taken to have consequences for how the person in whom this soul resides relates to other humans and to the world.
The ontological difference between time and eternity causes difficulties not only for anthropology. There are also problems with respect to Christol-ogy: Given the ontological difference, is it conceivable that the Incarnation introduces something qualitatively new, or does the static nature of the on-tological difference prohibit such dynamics? If the Incarnation also means in-temporization of the eternal, does it then alter the ontological distinction? Would it not then be necessary to modify, in a relational direction, the notion of God's immutability, absoluteness, and impassibility that is implied by the ontological distinction? Thus, the that of the ontological distinction presses toward the how, and not primarily toward the how of the difference between time and eternity, but rather, and above all, toward the how of the relationship between the two. The merely negative other seeks a positive other.
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